Recently I was introduced to The Poor People’s Campaign, in its most recent iteration. I was drawn in because I was raised in a poor family and have struggled to make up the shortfall my entire adult life. Those raised in middle class (and above) households often don’t realize that when you start below zero, in a humanities-based career it may take literally decades to catch up, if you ever do. There’s no safety net and there’s no inheritance. You begin with years of higher education debt and sub-standard pay in your profession. But I digress. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival is non-partisan and it is about more than just the poor. It’s about restoring true morality to our political system. Organized by the Rev. William J. Barber II, it has had some success in presenting the plight of the poor to a congress that has largely failed to care.
Politics is full of dirty money and lobbying to the point that many people are cynical and convinced that morality has no chance of survival in this city set on a hill. The pony and puppet show in a White House run by an entrenched narcissist shows just how far concerns for justice are from the aims of our government. Barber and his colleagues actually read from the Bible (which, it turns out, advocates justice) rather than just saying that they do. Compared with Martin Luther King’s 1968 campaign by the same name, The Poor People’s Campaign today is smaller, but growing. More and more citizens with a conscience realize that our government requires rescue if any semblance of fairness is to throw its hat into the political arena. We’ve become the victims of to government’s bread and circuses, but without the bread.
The most disturbing aspect of our current political spectrum is the complete lack of a moral compass on the side of politicians who cynically use issues to win elections only for personal enrichment. We have an Oval Office occupant who refuses to divest himself from his own business interests while using his position to increase his own wealth. Others in his party follow suit. The Poor People’s Campaign is non-partisan because corruption easily crosses the political aisle. At least one party seems to be aware that the poor really do suffer even as the White House tells them tax breaks for the wealthy will make everything better. When a government proposes “camps” for the homeless to get them off the streets, we should see that we’re clearly in trouble. And unless someone sounds the alarm the wealthy will never bother to take notice.